Why Is Photography So Expensive?

This a common question. The reason is lengthy. But I'll try to sum it all up with bullet points. If you're curious what equipment we use, please be sure to click on the ABOUT menu above.
  • Cameras
    Sure, your cell phone can take some really great photos, especially if you have some of the absolute latest models. But have you tried enlarging or printing your photos from your phone? You might find that the details you see on your phone screen aren't really displayed when you enlarge or print. That's because the image sensor on your phone is miniscule (diagonal width of 5mm, less than a quarter inch) in comparison to a full frame camera. The 36mm x 24mm sensor on a full frame camera is capable of capturing TONS of details that your phone just isn't capable of handling.

    Cameras are not cheap, and we use the best Canon cameras available. For example... the Canon EOS R5 alone is $3,900... without a lens, and without a memory card. And, you can't just rely on one camera body. If that body fails you need to have a backup on hand to fill the gap until it can be repaired or replaced.

  • Lenses
    Cameras are fantastic, but you can't take a photo with just a camera... you also need a lens. And you can't rely on just one lens, you need an arsenal of lenses. For example... the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 lens alone is $2,300.

  • Memory Cards
    So you've got your camera and a few lenses, but you still can't take a photo without memory to store the digital images. And for the Canon EOS R5 that means purchasing CF-Express type B cards, which sell for around $300 for 256gb. And you can't have just one, you need multiple cards in case of a failure.

  • Batteries
    Most cameras come with one battery. This won't do on a long shoot. A photographer needs to carry many extra batteries to ensure no gaps in shooting. The Canon EOS R5 battery costs $80 each.

  • Lighting
    You might be saying, "Hey, the sun is free! It costs nothing!" Absolutely true. But relying on sunshine alone is not always adequate. Photographers often require the use of off-camera flash or strobes. Along with this goes modifiers (aka soft boxes), light stands, tripods, and often time an additional person (or two) to assist with lighting.

  • Software
    Once the images are captured, we don't just offload the images directly to the customer... every single image is reviewed to see which will be kept and which will be discarded. The 'keepers' are then run through an image processor to bring out the best of the raw images captured. Then each 'keeper' image is gone through a second time for any fine tuning requirements (blemish removal, skin smoothing where applicable, color tweaking, and other various adjustments). We use Adobe Lightroom for image processing. This is a subscription service that we pay each month.

  • Computers
    So you've got your images, and you've got your software, but without a powerful computer you'll struggle to do anything with them. You're going to need a good computer to handle all the large image files (upwards of 50mb each, with hundreds or thousands per shoot), or if the product is video it could be 4k resolution files which are approximately 128gb per hour at average bitrates. A very capable machine with lots of internal storage and ram are a must have.

  • Storage
    Once the image processing is complete we need to be able to present you with proofs, and eventually an image gallery for you to share with others and to download as needed. This storage comes at a heavy cost as we're not just storing your images but also the images of many others, so the GB turn into TB very quickly.

  • Legal and Accounting
    Like any other business, we're required to file state and federal taxes and these services are also not cheap.

  • Website
    Luckily I run my own web server and write all my own software. Many photographers do not have that luxury and must pay others to provide web services. This is also expensive.

  • Time
    Before a shoot, it takes time to get everything ready: charge all the batteries, get all the equipment organized for the specific need, plan out any travel. It takes a lot of hours of work to process a single shoot after all the snapping is over. Loading all the images to the computer, thumbing through them all, editing, saving, backing up, preparing for presentation, and final files delivery. This can often take 3-4 times longer than the shoot itself, or 5-10 times longer for video processing (especially if using multiple cameras). Ask yourself... what is your own time worth?

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